Big Four Firm EY Buys Legal Innovator Riverview Law

EY has announced an agreement to acquire Riverview Law, the innovative legal services firm. It will now support the expansion of EY legal managed services globally. Riverview Law also has a strong technology practice that uses software from Kim Technologies.

The acquisition will help to enhance and scale the EY Law legal managed services offering and help EY clients to increase efficiency, manage risk, improve service transparency and reduce costs of routine legal activities, said the Big Four firm.

The acquisition of Riverview Law will extend the existing EY Law offering and add talent in legal innovation and operating model transformation, as well as further driving the current EY technology approach to legal managed services.

Meanwhile Kim Technologies says of itself: The Kim platform uses a variety of AI concepts, such as Neural Networks and Machine Intelligence, to enable knowledge workers with no software development expertise to automate processes, workflows, documents and dashboards in a matter of hours or days with zero IT development.

This is clearly a significant move for EY, and highlights the strategic aims of the Big Four in general, which is to take as much legal market share as possible where they can leverage their great scale, global reach and long-standing expertise in process management.

Bringing in Riverview Law for what is in effect ‘process work’ that perhaps might be carried out by an LPO, or a managed legal services team in a big UK or US law firm, creates a new level of competition in the market.

The ability to leverage Kim Technologies – and perhaps other as yet not mentioned AI review systems – for its work, is in line with the strategy of Big Four firms such as PwC  which has built a large legal process base in Belfast, where it uses a range of AI tools (see analysis piece on PwC’s strategy here).

The likelihood is that EY and other Big Four firms will now increasingly ramp up their offering while selling the one stop shop message to major corporate clients, inviting them to send all their review work to them, rather than traditional law firms. They will then cross sell their other legal capabilities that have also grown, as well as cross selling other consultative and expert services from across their network.

In short, this could prove to be a compelling offering and no doubt will force LPOs and  the process arms of major law firms to take note.

The acquisition is led by Chris Price, EY Global Head of Alliances – Tax, who will become CEO of EY Riverview Law once the acquisition is complete and will work closely with the existing Riverview Law leadership team to bolster the EY cross-sector, multidisciplinary approach to legal services that can be scaled to serve EY clients across the globe.

Kate Barton, EY Global Vice Chair – Tax, said: ‘When it comes to legal managed services, clients need access to best in cost and best in class law functions that offer the specialist tools and technologies to keep pace with the disruptive change they are facing. The acquisition of Riverview Law expands EY Law Services so that we can continue to provide these innovative approaches that can help meet EY clients’ biggest challenges.’

Cornelius Grossmann, EY Global Law Leader, added: ‘This acquisition underlines the position of EY as a leading disruptor of legal services; it will provide a springboard for current EY legal managed services offerings and bolster the capabilities that we can help deliver for EY clients. We recognize the expertise that Riverview Law has in this growing market area, which when married with the global EY footprint and legal understanding will help drive significant opportunities for EY clients.’

EY Law now comprises more than 2,200 law practitioners in member firms across 81 jurisdictions.

Karl Chapman, CEO of Riverview Law, concluded: ‘Becoming part of EY is a real strategic fit for our team and is in line with our commitment to deliver world-class service and counsel to Riverview Law clients who are at the core of everything we do. As part of EY, we will have even greater resources to help them drive business outputs from their legal inputs.’

The acquisition, which is conditional on the satisfaction of closing conditions, is expected to complete on 31 August 2018. Riverview Law will be known as EY Riverview Law.